18,000 Words: The 100 Worst Magic Cards of All Time (40-21)

First of all, why does this list even exist? Part of me wanted to have a definitive list of bad cards, one that didn’t include mistakes such as Phyrexian Dreadnought or Lion’s Eye Diamond. It took me a long time to do research for this article, and a long time to write all the pieces. While there are a couple of cards which have slipped through the cracks (Divining Witch/Deathlace), for the most part I feel like I’ve done a good job of covering all the bases.

And yet, there are arguments that certain cards are/are not the worst cards of all time…

(Click here for cards 100-81)

(Click here for cards 80-61)

(Click here for cards 60-41)

Welcome back to part four of my 100 Worst Cards of All Time countdown! Before we get to the list itself, there are a few issues I’d like to address.

First of all, why does this list even exist? Part of me wanted to have a definitive list of bad cards, one that didn’t include mistakes such as Phyrexian Dreadnought or Lion’s Eye Diamond. It took me a long time to do research for this article, and a long time to write all the pieces. While there are a couple of cards which have slipped through the cracks (Divining Witch/Deathlace), for the most part I feel like I’ve done a good job of covering all the bases.

There are arguments that certain cards are/are not the worst cards of all time. People have their pet cards that they will defend no matter the circumstance. Many players claim that Metamorphosis was a key player back in the day when you could Metamorphosis a Su-Chi into a Colossus of Sardia on the second turn. Just because a card was used in such a manner doesn’t make it good! You’re still giving up resources (Su-Chi, Metamorphosis, and in most examples a tapped Mana Crypt) to get a creature which you can use to attack once (because you won’t have nine mana to untap him), which is vulnerable to removal spells which were played in abundance back in the old Type 1 days (Disenchant, Swords to Plowshares, Shatter). Food Chain is good because it can fuel a first or second turn kill engine. Metamorphosis can give you one card disadvantage for the ability to generate one extra mana beyond your capabilities.

In a game like Magic, where you can play with the cards rather than just trade or collect them, there will always be best and worst cards. Because there are cards constantly being added to change the valuations of previous cards, these rankings are not absolute and concrete for all time. What’s the difference between card #40 and card #39 on my list as far as the amount one is better/worse than the other? Not a heck of a lot, but you have to rank the cards in some fashion or this list would be chaos. I was not willing to take the cheap way out and say”These are the 100 worst cards of all time, in alphabetical order.” This list is my opinion, based on years of play, research, and familiarity with the game as a whole. In short, it’s a labor of love – even though I’m dogging the cards for being bad, I’m exposing newer players to cards they didn’t know existed (most of the cards on this list are older), treating them with respect rather than outright indignation, and am making a constructive effort to fix (redo) the cards with a modern bent in mind.

People will agree or disagree with cards on my list, or in the list in general. That’s more than fine! No two people view all 6000+ cards in Magic with the same valuation, and all I can do is present my arguments about why these 100 are worse than the other 5900. Here are some of the cards which narrowly missed the countdown, and why:

Darksteel Cards: I did not have time to adjust this list to reflect Darksteel – perhaps at a later date I would do so, but since Darksteel has not even been played with yet, I didn’t feel it would be fair to add the cards without seeing how they pan out.

Sword of the Chosen: Giving a specific creature type +2/+2 without a mana cost is a great effect. If you’re playing Limited, chances are you’re not going to find a use for this, since legends are usually rare. In a Legends based constructed deck, this thing can be an absolute house.

Obstinate Familiar It was created to stop people from being decked by combo engines. It does just that. It’s on the weak side, but hardly worse than an Aisling Leprechaun or a Mons’s Goblin Raiders.

Kobolds: Any zero cost card can be abused in some sort of Ashnod’s Altar engine.

Any non-Oath of Druids Oath: All of them are decent in multi-player. Even the Red Oath.

Shrieking Mogg: If you can put it into play at the end of an opponent’s turn, you get a free Falter/Ensnare effect. This includes using cards like Elvish Piper, Moggcatcher, and other less than optimal but perfectly fine group game cards.

Blessed Wind: Weak, but fine in multiplayer. Its strongest use, in that format, is to bring someone back down to twenty life. Remember, in a format where Congregate can gain a person 100+ life in a single shot, this acts as an eighty point bolt.

Pedantic Learning: Weak, but not so weak that you can’t build a card drawing engine around it, that is halfway passable for casual play.

Psychic Theft: Fell just short of the top 100. It’s really bad, but not every bad card can make the top 100.

Kasimir the Lone Wolf/Soulgorger Orgg/other bad fatties: These guys are large and in charge. There are multiple times good players would sideboard in Soulgorger Orgg in PT settings during OTJ draft. Large creatures are capable of killing. They’d need to be truly overcosted and weak to make this list….(foreshadowing)

Tidal Influence: Half the time it doesn’t hurt you. A quarter of the time, it helps you a bunch, a quarter of the time it hinders you a bunch. It just missed the top 100, but it was in serious consideration.

This list could go on and on, but you get the point. There are plenty more bad cards just waiting to crack the bottom 100, but they’ll have to wait for their own day in the sun. What you want is a list of the 100 worst cards of all time, so without further ado, cards #40-21.

40) Rhystic Cave (Prophecy: Uncommon)


Tap: Choose a color. Add one mana of that color to your mana pool unless any player pays 1. You can’t play this ability as another spell or ability is being played.

Why it’s bad: This is, without a doubt, the worst five color land in Magic. Hell, it’s the worst land in Magic that can produce colored mana (watches people knocking other cards off their worst off lists against my tally). This is like a Rishadan Port, except that your opponent chooses which land they tap down. The more players that are in the game, the less chance this has of getting activated. You basically cost yourself a land drop playing Rhystic Cave, and stand little-to-no chance of it ever getting activated past the first turn, if you’re playing first. Late game it’s completely dead. Mid game it’s completely dead. Early game, it’s marginally useful, and potentially completely dead. Mercadian Masques block decks were in desperate need of mana fixers, and that this wasn’t even considered shows how truly bad it is.

How to fix it: Much like Meteor Crater, offer the option for the land to tap for a colorless under any circumstance. We could raise the cost it takes to prevent the Cave from producing mana, but then it would be strictly better than just about any other five color land in Magic for the first five or so turns of the game.

Rhystic Cave


Tap: Add 1 mana to your mana pool.

Tap: Choose a color. Add one mana of that color to your mana pool unless any player plays 1. You can’t play this ability as another spell or ability is being played.

39) Strongarm Tactics (Onslaught: Rare)

B1, Sorcery

Each player discards a card from his or her hand. Then each player who didn’t discard a creature card this way loses 4 life.

Why it’s bad: Discard spells exist with mainly two purposes in mind: to trade the discard spell for your opponent’s best spell possible (Duress/Coercion) or to make your opponent discard multiple cards at once, thereby netting you card advantage (Hymn to Tourach/Mind Twist). Strongarm Tactics is the rare third type of discard spell: one which both loses you card advantage and doesn’t necessarily get a good card out of your opponent’s hand. It might be a cheap pseudo-Lava Axe, but you’re losing two cards of your own to even cast this (the Tactics plus another card out of your hand). If you don’t discard a creature, you’re losing two cards for one card plus Flame Rifting yourself. This is the hallmark of a horrible card.

How to fix it: This one’s simple as well – just throw in the word”other.” People might argue that you lose the ability to use Strongarm Tactics to get your own creatures into the graveyard (which would give it a use in reanimator decks), but then again this people would have to admit that no self respecting reanimator deck would play this piece of junk in the first place. Imagine that – an inanimate object playing another inanimate object. Hurray for nouns!

Strongarm Tactics

B1, Sorcery

Each other player discards a card from his or her hand. Then each of those players who didn’t discard a creature card this way loses 4 life.

38) Dripping Dead (Legions: Common)

BB4, Creature — Zombie

Dripping Dead can’t block.

Whenever Dripping Dead deals combat damage to a creature, destroy that creature. It can’t be regenerated.


Why it’s bad: The largest creature on this list (in terms of total power and toughness) finishes in 38th place. Even in the tribally-themed Onslaught block, this guy was purely bad. It can’t be considered a true fatty, since it only has a one toughness – all it has going for it is power. This means that for six mana, you get a creature with no real evasion ability, which can be chump blocked by any creature with a pitchfork and a wish, and will die. It can’t block, so the high power and basilisk ability are 100% useless on defense. Paying six mana for a 4/1 creature with a major drawback is about the worst cost-to-ability ratio you’re going to get in Magic for a tribal creature.

How to fix it: There are so many things wrong with Dripping Dead, including a low toughness, high mana cost, and drawback on blocking. Compared to the common Twisted Abomination just one set later, this thing becomes even more of a joke. Does Dripping Dead need another ability? Does it need to lose a drawback? Would giving it regeneration help it at least be a fearsome attacker? Should it be a cycling creature, so at least you can get rid of it late game? Should it morph, so at least it can be a surprise blocker with a chance of playing Skinthinner?

I’ll leave this one up to the forum goers to debate. Just how could you fix Dripping Dead to be playable, given it was from Onslaught Block?

37) Mogg Squad (Tempest: Uncommon)

R1, Creature — Goblin

Mogg Squad gets -1/-1 for each other creature in play.


Why it’s bad: This is my least favorite creature in Magic. It’s one of the only creatures in Magic which reads”when you cast this creature, place it in the graveyard immediately.” Goblin decks want to play multiple creatures, making this card of counterintuitive design immediately. Your opponent can kill it in Limited, simply by playing with creatures. You can kill it yourself by having creatures in play. Past turn 2, it’ll virtually never be a 3/3. At least you could argue in Constructed that it’s a Goblin and therefore could be used with other Goblin cards – or that you could build a deck around having him as your only creature, a-la Steel Golem, but worse. Either way, Mogg Squad is truly awful.

How to fix it: The fix would be to either make it get -1/-1 only for your creatures, or only for your opponent’s creatures. I’d say, in this case, that it should only be for your creatures. Otherwise, you’ve got a 3/3 Sligh creature that can bust through early in the game when backed by a Shock or two – and we don’t need more Mogg Flunkies running around. Plus, it fits the theme of there being a squad of Goblins which are bickering among each other – the more creatures you have in play, the more unfocused the squad becomes.

Mogg Squad

R1, Creature – Goblin

Mogg Squad gets -1/-1 for each other creature you control.


36) Feroz’s Ban/Mana Matrix/Planar Gate

Feroz’s Ban (Homelands/5th/7th: Rare)

6, Artifact

Creature spells cost 2 more to play.

Mana Matrix (Legends: Rare)

6, Artifact

Instant and enchantment spells you play cost up to 2 less to play.

Planar Gate (Legends: Rare)

6, Artifact

Creature spells you play cost up to 2 less to play.

Why they’re bad: Although Feroz’s Ban does the opposite of Planar Gate, these three are all grouped together as they are six cost artifacts which effect mana costs by 2. Reducing the mana costs of anything (or increasing them, for that manner) is a great effect under the right circumstance, especially for combo decks. The Tempest Medallions, Helm of Awakening, and the Planeshift familiars have been used successfully. The same goes for Gloom, Chill, and Sphere of Resistance. However, all of these have one thing in common: they are generally cheaper than the spells they are attempting to reduce. Even with a Tinker effect, Mana Matrix won’t help out your acceleration much. Planar Gate might be nifty, but why not play Urza’s Incubator instead?

And then there’s Feroz’s Ban. This card deserves a special mention, as it somehow got reprinted twice. Not once. Twice. My God, by the time you get to the six mana you need to cast Feroz’s Ban, your opponent(s) have probably dropped all their creatures onto the table. It affects your creature spells as well as your opponent’s.

How to fix them: You can’t fix these spells. And here’s why: mana cost reducing/enhancing spells are either too good or too bad. There really isn’t a middle ground with this sort of spell (and yes, I know I’m going to catch a lot of flack for this statement), but you’ve either got Nightscape Familiar or you’ve got Flash. Casual players absolutely love this sort of effect, even when the card is not tournament playable (Edgewalker, Urza’s Incubator). Cards which affect a very limited scope (for instance, the Warchief five from Scourge) are fine, but other types of these cards (Medallions, Helm of Awakening) exist as engine cards which you use to go infinite more quickly.

If Mana Matrix costs too little, it would be broken. The same goes for Planar Gate (although somewhat less so). Feroz’s Ban would be no fun to play against if it were too cheap, and if it costs too much it’s useless. Should it cost 5? Too high. 4? Too high. 3? Too low. There’s really no middle ground on that card.

35) Visions (Legends/4th: Uncommon)

W, Sorcery

Look at the top five cards of target player’s library. You may then have that player shuffle that library.

Why it’s bad: Index without the ability to reorder the cards. Visions allows you to look at your opponent’s library (which Index doesn’t), but in exchange you’re either stuck with the five cards you get on top, or you have to reshuffle. Even Natural Selection, from Alpha, was an instant and allowed reordering. There are hundreds of better ways to shuffle your library if you need a shuffle effect, and dozens of better ways to look at the top few cards of your library. Basically this card says”look into your future. If you like it, then now you know what’s going on. If you don’t like it, you get another random future.” Or”look into your opponent’s future. If they have nothing coming up, then you’ll know about it ahead of them. If they do have something coming up, then they get a random chance to have any other cards coming up instead.” This effect is not worth a card.

How to fix it: First of all, this wouldn’t be a White effect anymore – it would be a Blue effect. See Index if you want a suggestion about how to fix this card. To be completely wacky, let’s keep this card White, and borrow inspiration from another source:

Visions to Plowshares

W, Sorcery

Target player reveals the top five cards of their library. Remove any number of these cards from and put the rest back on top of that player’s library in any order.

Then again, this effect would usually cost UB5 using Sealed Fate. We should probably reduce the number of cards seen to three instead of five.

34) Avalanche/Melting (IA: Uncommon)


RR2X, Sorcery

Destroy X target snow-covered lands.


R3, Enchantment

All lands lose snow-covered.

Why they’re bad: Snow-Covered lands was a bad mechanic, because it didn’t really add much to the game. In order to keep track of Snow-Covered lands versus the spells that need Snow-Covered lands, you need to constantly pay attention to which basic lands are in play. There were too many cards which penalized playing with or without Snow-Covered Lands – hence almost nobody used them. In addition to cards like Arctic Wolves (which discouraged your opponent from playing Snow-Covered lands) and Kjeldoran Guard (which discouraged you from playing Snow-Covered lands while encouraging your opponent to play with them) made for a really schizophrenic way of looking at whether to play or not play Snow-Covered lands.

Then there were multiple cards designed to directly hose Snow-Covered lands. The two worst were Melting and Avalanche. 99.99% of current Magic players don’t even know that Snow-Covered lands exist, much less play with them, so these cards are useless most of the time. Even back in the day, both were bad sideboard cards against a bad mechanic for Limited play. In Constructed you’d run Cold Snap if you really, truly wanted to punish Snow-Covered land players. In Limited, you had a spell which cost five mana to kill a single land, and it could only kill a weird, unused land type. You also had an enchantment which turned lands into the same lands, except without an ability which was a drawback half the time anyhow.

How to fix them: Avalanche could have cost RX and Melting a single R, and they still would have been bad, because Snow-Covered lands as a whole were that bad. These cards both accomplished what they were supposed to, but they hosed a mechanic which turned out didn’t need hosing. R&D learned a valuable lesson from Snow-Covered lands – if you’re going to print a mechanic, don’t print so many cards to hose that mechanic that it isn’t worth it to play with that mechanic, especially if that mechanic isn’t that strong to begin with.

33) Hawkeater Moth (Urza’s Saga: Uncommon)

G3, Creature – Insect


Hawkeater Moth can’t be the target of spells or abilities.


Why it’s bad: If you want to pick a cut off point for the cards which were considered for the twenty worst cards of all time, this is that point. R&D has a current philosophy about flying creatures: White gets small (Suntail Hawk), medium (Aven Cloudchaser) and large (Exalted Angel) flyers at all rarity slots. Blue gets medium (Skywing Aven) flyers at all rarity slots, and large flyers (Mahamoti Djinn, Broodstar) in the rare slot. Black gets weak flyers or overcosted in the common slot (Vampire Bats), medium flyers in the uncommon slot (Phyrexian Slayer), and large flyers in the rare slot (Sengir Vampire). Red gets large flyers in the rare slot (dragons).

Green doesn’t get flyers anymore, with very rare exceptions. Instead, they get a lot of spiders (creatures that can block as if they had flying). With these guidelines in mind (and keep in mind there are always exceptions, but this is the current R&D blueprint), one can understand why Hawkeater Moth is so bad – it’s an uncommon flyer in a color that isn’t supposed to have any flyers.

Here is a list of all the non-multicolored Green flyers that have been printed since Hawkeater Moth:

Venomous Dragonfly

Caustic Wasps

Xantid Swarm

That’s a full list – sixteen sets worth of Green flyers in Magic, and only one of them has been printed since Mercadian Masques.

This still does not make Hawkeater Moth any less bad of a card.

How to fix it: Maybe if Hawkeater Moth was more in line with Caustic Wasps (Three mana) or was slightly larger (2/1 instead of 1/2, in a color that wants their creatures targeted by cards like Invigorate in Limited) would fix Hawkeater Moth. It’d be hard to make it good, because it’s supposed to be a bad card – R&D wants Green flyers to be at this sort of level.

32) Pretender’s Claim (Mercadian Masques: Uncommon)

B1, Enchant Creature

Whenever enchanted creature becomes blocked, tap all lands defending player controls.

Why it’s bad: Players have used Mana Short as a way to force through their combos by tapping out an opponent at the end of the opponent’s turn, by tapping out a control player to get through some of your own spells, or to win a counterspell war in a control on control mirror match. The effect is good enough to see serious play. None of these scenarios involve:

Having to have a creature in play.

Having to enchant that creature.

Having to have the enchanted creature blocked in order to tap out your opponent.

This ability is a Blue ability to begin with – why is it suddenly a Black creature enchantment that requires combat to take place? In Constructed, a deck that cares about being tapped out usually won’t have blockers in play and/or would gladly let the enchanted creature through. A deck that doesn’t care about tapping out will gleefully block the enchanted creature while laughing all the way to the card advantage bank.

How to fix it: This card should have been Blue, so that’s the first fix we’d make. In addition, let’s make it work in the exact opposite way that it’s currently working:

Pretender’s Claim

U1, Enchant Creature

Whenever enchanted creature attacks and is not blocked, tap all lands defending player controls.

At least now it’s useful, though still not good.

31) Legends Anti-Landwalkers (Crevasse, Deadfall, Great Wall, Quagmire, Undertow)

Crevasse (Legends: Uncommon)

R2, Enchantment

Creatures with mountainwalk may be blocked as though they didn’t have mountainwalk.

(Deadfall is Green and forestwalk, Great Wall is White and plainswalk, Quagmire is black and swampwalk, Undertow is Blue and islandwalk.)

Why they’re bad: I’m going to catch a lot of flack for having these this high up on the list, especially since people seem to reserve a special place in Magic Hell for Great Wall. Yes, Great Wall can stop exactly one non-portal creature in Magic. Yes, these abilities are narrow and limited. They aren’t useless though – they’re just narrow and bad. They are 100% effective at accomplishing their goal (Crevasse will stop Goblin King fuelled goblins, Undertow kills Sand Squid’s evasion cold). [Ph3aR tEh SqUiD. – Knut] These goals are just not that great. Each of these could have cost a single mana, and they still wouldn’t be any more playable than they are now.

How to fix them: Ice Age fixed these five by combining them into one artifact.

Staff of the Ages (Ice Age: Rare)

3, Artifact

Creatures with landwalk abilities may be blocked as though they didn’t have those abilities.

Simple, neat, and able to obsolete all five Legends enchantments in one clean stroke.

30) Phyrexian Tribute (Mirage: Rare)

B2, Sorcery

As an additional cost to play Phyrexian Tribute, sacrifice two creatures.

Destroy target artifact.

Why it’s bad: When you need to kill artifacts, you need to kill artifacts. If you’re playing mono-Black, you’re usually going to pack Oblivion Stones, Nevinyrral’s Disk, or Gate to Phyrexia. You’re not going to want to play this card, which costs you three cards (or one card and two tokens, whatever – I’m not getting into this debate. Get over it) to get rid of one card – and that’s only if it’s not countered. If the Tribute is countered, you’ve lost two resources all for naught. In addition, the Tribute is a Sorcery, so you can’t cast it in response to a global sweeper or some other effect that would kill the sacrificed creatures anyhow.

How to fix it: Black isn’t supposed to be able to kill artifacts or enchantments. Much like Hawkeater Moth, this is about the power level an ability this off-color is going to get. It’s not one of the twenty worst cards ever because at least it gives Black the option of killing artifacts, especially with cards like Breeding Pit. Obviously I’m not excusing the entire card, because it’s this far down. And at least it does something (ominous foreshadowing for tomorrow)….

29) Manabond (Exodus: Rare)

G, Enchantment

At the end of your turn, you may reveal your hand and put all land cards from it into play. If you do, discard your hand.

Why it’s bad: On the surface, Manabond seems really decent – you get to massively accelerate your mana on the first turn! But wait, every single spell you’d want to cast with this mana gets discarded. Only madness spells will survive to use the Manabond mana. You also can only use this ability during one phase (your end of turn), so you can’t drop a ton of mana into play as a surprise. Manabond doesn’t count as playing lands, so it won’t trigger Horn of Greed, making it useless for Turboland decks. There are two uses viable uses for Manabond:

As an accelerator in a Madness deck.

As an accelerator in an all-land (minus the Manabonds, of course) deck.

In both cases, Manabond doesn’t work. If you don’t draw it on the first turn in the all-land-deck it’s likely to be useless. If you draw it late game in the Madness deck, or if you don’t have Madness cards to go with your lands, it’s useless.

How to fix it: How do you fix Manabond without making it broken in half? The ability to play all of your lands at once is quite powerful, and this has a drawback (much like Lion’s Eye Diamond) that many would deem insurmountable. Take a look at Burgeoning from Stronghold.

Burgeoning (Stronghold: Rare)

G, Enchantment

Whenever an opponent plays a land, you may put a land card from your hand into play.

Now take a look at Exploration.

Exploration (Urza’s Saga: Rare)

You may play an additional land each of your turns.

How do you fix Manabond without making it a clone of one of these two cards? If you make it a one-land a turn affair sans drawback, you end up with one of these two cards. If you keep it as an Enchantment that lets you play all your lands at once, you almost need a drawback as severe as”discard your hand” to keep it from being broken in half. Summer Bloom was close to playable, but just on the cusp. This would be Summer Bloom, except with no activation cost, but it’s reusable. We need to make Manabond an all-or-nothing deal that won’t enable combo decks. How about this:


G, Enchantment

When Manabond comes into play, put a time counter on it for every card in your hand.

Whenever you play a land, remove a time counter from Manabond.

As long as there are any time counters on Manabond, you cannot play spells.

You may put any number of lands into play on your turn.

With this wording, any lands you”put into play” using Manabond do not remove counters – you only get to remove counters by playing lands (your usual one a turn). Once you remove all the counters from Manabond, it can become a really sick engine enabler (play six lands a turn, cast Time Spiral, play another four lands, Fact or Fiction, play three lands, go off), but until that time it literally keeps you from doing anything at all in the game. It would have a massive drawback, but gives you a massive combo enabling effect once you get all the counters off.

28) Goblin Lyre (Ice Age: Rare)

3, Artifact

Sacrifice Goblin Lyre: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, Goblin Lyre deals damage to target opponent equal to the number of creatures you control. If you lose the flip, Goblin Lyre deals damage to you equal to the number of creatures that opponent controls.

Why it’s bad: If you win the flip, you deal 1-3 damage to target opponent. If you lose the flip, you deal 1-3 damage to yourself. If you’ve got a ton of creatures in play, you still only have a 50% chance of dealing damage. You can only deal damage to players (if it could target creatures, it’d at least be a interesting Limited trick, a-la Mogg Assassin) and you only get to use this effect once. If you don’t have creatures, it doesn’t’ do anything. If you do have creatures, it only does something beneficial half the time. If you don’t have 5+ creatures, it doesn’t do much, even if you do win that flip.

How to fix it: Make it able to target creatures, so at least it’s a useful limited card.

Goblin Lyre

3, Artifact

Sacrifice Goblin Lyre: Flip a coin. If you win the flip, Goblin Lyre deals damage to target creature or player equal to the number of creatures you control. If you lose the flip, Goblin Lyre deals damage to you or target creature of an opponent’s choice.

This makes it more along the lines of Crooked Scales, but able to maybe hit players. As a side note, Mob Justice does a fine job of fixing this card in real world Magic.

27) Wintermoon Mesa (Prophecy: Rare)


Wintermoon Mesa comes into play tapped.

Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.

2, Tap, Sacrifice Wintermoon Mesa: Tap two target lands.

Why it’s bad: This is the single worst mana producing land in Magic. First, it comes into play tapped. Then, it can only produce colorless mana, and a single one at that. Last, you can spend two mana plus sacrifice Wintermoon Mesa to tap two lands for a single turn. I can understand that Rishadan Port was a little too good, especially in Masques Block Constructed, but making a land this bad as a knee-jerk reaction seems a bit absurd. There are few situations where tapping two lands will matter – and even if you get to one of those situations, do you want to be playing a land which comes into play tapped and doesn’t help your colored mana situation? At least it taps for colorless, saving it from being one of the twenty all time worst cards ever. You can’t knock a card which produces mana, but this is about as bad as they get.

How to fix it: Here’s the initial fix.

Wintermoon Mesa


Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.

Sacrifice Wintermoon Mesa: Tap two target lands.

However, do you really want to give another mana denial land to a block which already has Tangle Wire and Rishadan Port (banned)? Without any drawbacks, Wintermoon Mesa is quite playable. You’re basically trading a land drop for massive tempo in the early game, and I could easily see Red Deck Wins packing four of the above version of the card. How about we make the tap effect a little more symmetrical – after all, you spent a turn waiting to use the Mesa!

Wintermoon Mesa


Wintermoon Mesa comes into play tapped.

Tap: Add 1 to your mana pool.

2, Tap, Sacrifice Wintermoon Mesa: Tap two target lands. Those lands do not untap during their controller’s next untap phase.

This is a good effect, since you’re taking out lands for two turns instead of one – plus you still need to spend three mana (two plus the Mesa itself) to achieve this effect, plus you lose the Mesa.

26) Security Detail (Mercadian Masques: Rare)

W3, Enchantment

WW: Put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token into play. Play this ability only if you control no creatures and only once each turn.

Why it’s bad: Security Detail gives you free creatures, much like Kjeldoran Outpost. It also has no drawback when it comes into play, unlike Kjeldoran Outpost. You can only use the ability once a turn, just like Kjeldoran Outpost. Kjeldoran Outpost was a really good card.

It’s the second sentence that turns Security Detail from winner to absolute loser:”Play this ability only if you control no creatures.” Exsqueeze me? In order to play a 1/1 creature once, I need to have no other creatures in play? I can’t use it again until the one 1/1 creature I made with six mana dies/leaves play? I can’t use this as anything even resembling a combo engine, because I can only use the ability once a turn? Basically, I have to keep my board clear of creatures, and my reward is a 1/1 that I can put into play after my other 1/1 dies. Yeah, no thanks.

How to fix it:

Mobilization (Onslaught: Rare)

W2, Enchantment

Attacking doesn’t cause Soldiers to tap.

2W: Put a 1/1 white Soldier creature token into play.

There, it’s fixed. It’s still not great, but it’s borderline tournament playable (it’s shown up from time to time in various formats, but has never been a staple of any one tournament scene).

25) Snowfall (Ice Age: Common)

U2, Enchantment

Cumulative upkeep U

Whenever an Island is tapped for mana, its controller may add U to his or her mana pool. If that Island is a snow-covered land, its controller may add UU to his or her mana pool instead. Spend this mana only to pay for cumulative upkeep.

Why it’s bad: This is the most confusing common in Magic. It Mana Flares or super Mana Flares your Islands, but this mana can only be used to pay cumulative upkeep. In addition, Snowfall has cumulative upkeep itself. There aren’t a whole lot of cards that you’d need to cumulative upkeep this long, especially those that are Blue. Yes, people built decks around this and Reality Twist and Illusionary Forces. However, those decks were both bad and relied on mostly bad cards, and lost a whole lot. This is an enchantment which gives you mana to pay the upkeep on itself and on other cards, but does not accelerate you in any fashion. This could have been the rare that took over Reality Twist’s rare slot in Ice Age.

I don’t care if you’ve built a Snowfall deck and used it to keep Illusionary Wall in play for thirty turns – outside of a small handful of cards in Magic (extremely narrow), this card only helps during one phase (upkeep) of your turn (not your opponent’s). It doesn’t help you get anything into play – it just helps to keep other cards in play.

How to fix it: Man, this card is a mess. Between the math (regular versus Snow-Covered lands, with your Snow-Covered Islands able to produce either one, two or three mana) and the cumulative upkeep this card has itself, it’s a bookkeeping nightmare of the first degree. Why not just make this card a Rare and make it do what it’s supposed to do?


UU2, Enchantment

Cumulative Upkeep: U

As long as Snowfall is in play, you do not need to pay the cumulative upkeep of non-Snowfall cards. When Snowfall leaves play, destroy all cumulative upkeep cards you control. They can’t be regenerated.

It costs a bit more than the original Snowfall, but it turns all your cumulative upkeep cards into permanent fixtures – but only as long as Snowfall is in play. Eventually it goes away itself, taking everything with it. The drawback might be harsh, but it’s the trade off you get for making temporary cards permanent. Think of it as a big clock for all your bigger clocks.

24) Tahngarth’s Glare (Apocalypse: Common)

R, Sorcery

Look at the top three cards of target opponent’s library, then put them back in any order. That player looks at the top three cards of your library, then puts them back in any order.

Why it’s bad: First we had Index, then Visions. Last on the lineup of bad peeking cards comes Tahngarth’s Glare, a truly abominable sorcery out of Apocalypse. In exchange for an ordinarily Blue ability, Red gets to have the opponent mess with their own deck. Why is this card Red? Because it’s chaotic to let your opponent mess with your toys as much as you mess with theirs? I don’t think so – that’s White or Green symmetry (please don’t hit me) coming into play. In addition, this is bad for all the reasons the above cards were bad – you’re only seeing the future, you still can’t do much about it – except this time you’re allowing your opponent to set back your draws on your own dollar and time.

We’re really starting to dredge the bottom of the barrel here, aren’t we? This card can be used as a”win-more” card if you already have superior board position, but that’s about the long and short of its usefulness.

How to fix it: This could have been a one way effect and still have made the 100 worst cards of all time list:

Tahngarth’s Glare

R, Sorcery

Look at the top three cards of target opponent’s library, then put them back in any order.

It still doesn’t have enough of an effect to warrant the loss of a card and a mana spent casting it (unless you had some wacky recursion engine going where you could cast it every turn – but in that case, your opponent will eventually get something they want). Let’s change this card entirely, but keep the Red theme of wacky fun chaos!

Tahngarth’s Glare

R, Sorcery

Reveal the top card of target opponent’s library. Deal X damage to target creature or player, where X is the mana cost of that spell. That opponent may choose to put that card in their graveyard or back on top of their library.

Erratic Explosion in reverse! At least this card reflects the flavor of its name (Tahngarth is glaring at you, and as we all know from Planeshift, Tahngarth also deals his power in damage to you), if not the original card design.

23) Fortified Area (Legends/4th: Uncommon/Common)

WW1, Enchantment

Walls you control get +1/+0 and have banding.

Why it’s bad: The Glyphs were bad, but most of them were at least capable of generating a good effect. Fortified Area makes your Wall of Stone a 1/8 bander that still can’t attack. In concept, banding Walls are good – you can play defense with multiple creatures, and use the high toughness Wall to absorb all the damage. The you realize that A) why do you want to play defense like that, if B) the wall could block the creature anyhow and C) you’re having to devote a full card to a creature type that won’t be played often anyhow? People will have built some wacky Rolling Stones deck which featured Fortified Area as a type of half-pump Crusade. This doesn’t make the card good – it makes it a creature pumper for bad creatures which don’t need pumping to begin with.

Plus it costs three mana. Why not play Glorious Anthem for that cost?

How to fix it: Hello Darksteel!

Fortified Area

WW1, Enchantment

Non-attacking Walls you control are indestructible.

Now you’ve fortified your area, but your Walls don’t gain this bonus if they are offensive (such as Wall of Wonder or a Wall deck built around Rolling Stones). Really, this is what fortifying your Walls should do, not make them into creatures which work well together in combat.

22) Cabal Inquisitor (Odyssey: Common)

B1, Creature — Minion

Threshold – B1, Tap, Remove two cards in your graveyard from the game: Target player discards a card from his or her hand. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery. (Play this ability only if seven or more cards are in your graveyard.)


Why it’s bad: If Decaying Soil was bad, this guy is worse. He’s a 1/1 for two mana with no ability until you reach threshold. Once you do reach threshold, you get to take yourself out of threshold two cards at a time in exchange for your opponent losing one card of their choice from their hand. This ability will rarely come into play, since you’re playing bad 1/1 creatures instead of Wild Mongrel in Odyssey Limited. The Inquisitor is way below the curve early game and has a negligible ability with a major drawback (for the block) late game. There are dozens of cards which can force a discard a turn, and none are as bad as this little Black dude.

How to fix it: You still want Cabal Inquisitor to be a common, but there’s a precedent for common discard creatures in Magic. Take a look at Zuran Enchanter and Cat Burglar – both have three mana activation abilities forcing a single discard, but without any drawbacks. Given the tempo in Odyssey block, would it have been bad to make this guy useable before threshold?

Cabal Inquisitor

B1, Creature – Minion

B2, Tap: Target player discards a card from his or her hand. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.

Threshold – B2, Tap: Target player discards two cards from his or her hand. Play this ability only any time you could play a sorcery.

This would fit the threshold doubling theme of Chainflinger and Hallowed Healer, both of which are more useful commons out of Odyssey.

21) Saprazzan Raider (Mercadian Masques: Common)

U2, Creature — Merfolk

When Saprazzan Raider becomes blocked, return it to its owner’s hand.


Why it’s bad: Saprazzan Raider feels like it’s missing a couple of lines of text. Three mana for a 1/2 creature is bad enough, but its ability, if you could call it that, is beyond lame. The Raider doesn’t play defense, and can’t really play offense. Any creature in Magic can block and bounce it. Then you need to spend three mana replaying this Merfolk once it bounces. The Raider can suicide attack all day long, but even if it’s unblocked then it’s only dealing one point of damage. Why would you play with this card, even in the most themed of Merfolk decks?

How to fix it: Unfortunately, we’ve already got Darting Merfolk in the Blue common slot of Mercadian Masques, so making this guy work defensively (free blocking!) would be an easy fix that clashes with another card in the set. How about we make Saprazzan Raider a little beefier, and allow him a broader effect?

Saprazzan Raider

U2, Creature – Merfolk

When Saprazzan Raider becomes blocked, return it and all creatures blocking it to their owner’s hand.


It’s still not a great card, but it’s somewhat better. Now it’s a Grey Ogre, putting it on the power curve appropriate for a three mana common creature. It still can’t get through any blockers, but it’s big enough that your opponent can’t ignore it. Sure, they can chump it with a one mana creature all day long, but it’s entirely possible they’ll need to block with something larger, if that’s all they have on hand. In addition, it’s got a built in nifty combo with an uncommon in the set (Lure) for Limited play.

Tomorrow: A breakdown by set, a tribute to the man who made this all happen, and the grand finale to this list. You wouldn’t dare miss seeing the twenty worst Magic cards of all time, only at StarCityGames.com.